Fourth Go At The Race That Started It All

In March of 2012, after training with my first running group for months, I had a go at my first trail race. It was the McKay Hollow Madness 25K and we all found out that maybe that wasn’t the best race to be our first, each time we told someone it was going to be.

“You know it has the word ‘madness’ in the title, right?”

Training with my small group for that race is still something I hold dear to my heart. Those friends helped build my confidence over those few months, making me feel like I could take on bigger things eventually. I highly recommend trail running groups if you’re a newbie. Every time you fall you can feel your confidence wash away and you need people around you to remind you that A) they fall too and B) you miss out on some amazing adventures if you don’t get up and keep running.

I was going over my old race report and it had me thinking about two things.

  1. Kim of 2012 talked a lot about the mud during the part of Natural Well that takes you to the finish line. Kim of 2012 would shit a brick if she sow how muddy I’ve seen the other 13 miles the last few weeks. Kim of 2015 wishes that would be the only muddy part this year.
  2. I don’t remember writing this part: “I teared up because I was so proud but trail runners are NOT the crying type so I sucked it in and pushed towards the finish.” But it cracked me up because I obviously didn’t care at the finish line at Mountain Mist this year.

However, when I read the race report from 2013, I do remember how I wanted to back out. I distinctly remember looking around and seeing my friends who were there for their first attempt and thinking I’ve done this already, I have nothing to prove. I can go home. I think about that often when I’m miserable before a race – or even during a race. That, in the end, it can still be a great day. The “pre-race” hour or so can be so miserable if the weather is bad. It’s hard to convince yourself you’ll warm up. Especially if it’s raining. But I think about that day often and remind myself that weather can be dealt with. Lost experiences can not.

Then, of course, there was last year, the year I finally beat the 4-hour goal I had been trying to beat for years. That was a good day. It got hot and I probably pushed myself at the wrong times, but it was a good day. And I made that goal with the added few challenges they put in that year to make up for the removal of another challenge.

And tomorrow is Go #4. As with everything since Mountain Mist, I don’t feel very trained as my body basically fell apart the second the Grand Slam was over, but this race is like my childhood friends. Sometimes we’ve not talked a lot and I worry it will be awkward but then we’re together five minutes and I feel my spirit recharged because we know each other so well.

This was something I wrote at the end of my first McKay race report:

Many trail runners say that it’s addicting. If you’ve made it to run an actual trail race, then you’re probably hooked for life. And I can totally see that. It’s fun, it’s exciting, it’s messy, and it makes you overlook the fact that you might be having a stroke.

I don’t trail run in the summer due to Donnie’s summer schedule and my allergies to poison ivy and my fear of snakes – but for six months out of a year it is what keeps me going every week. I’ve had a rough couple of months and many weekends have come and I’ve thought If it weren’t for these trail runs, I’d be spending money on therapy and medications right now. They are the only thing that have kept me close to sane as I’ve had some weird cycles of grief and stress waving in.

So, I’ll go again tomorrow. Because this was the race that started it all and I can’t miss it, not for anything.

Photo from McKay 2014 by Gregg Gelmis
Photo from McKay 2014 by Gregg Gelmis

2 thoughts on “Fourth Go At The Race That Started It All”

  1. I love McKay and wish I was running it tomorrow! I hope you have a great time running it and playing in the mud! You mentioned that trail groups are great for newbies. They are great for experienced runners too! I couldn’t make it to the 50K distance alone, because I didn’t believe I could. After running with you and our trail running group, I did the Grand Slam , not just one 50K but 3, plus a marathon!

  2. I am SO nervous about tomorrow and I am only doing the 12k. My training fell apart a month ago when I had to take a break from the running due to a bone bruise in my knee (How that happens…I have NO CLUE!) But in all the Sunday morning groups and your many posts, you have such fun running trails and I want to have that fun too! Like the quote said, I am now hooked.

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